By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Pakistan remained concerned Monday, May 23, over the situation of Pastor Paul Ashraf and his family after they reportedly narrowly survived a drive by shooting by suspected Islamic militants in Punjab province, seriously injuring their eldest son.
“Pastor Ashraf was in a van with his wife, Rubina Ashraf, and eldest son Sarfraz Ashraf, on April 27 when two unidentified men on a motorbike opened fire” on their car, said the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), an advocacy group closely following the case.
“Pastor Ashraf and Rubina were unharmed but Sarfraz” who drove the vechicle, “was shot in the side and face. The masked gunmen fled from the scene when they saw that Sarfraz had been seriously injured,” CLAAS explained.
“Miraculously, he survived the shot to the face and was released from MAYO Hospital after just one day,” CLAAS told BosNewsLife.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the violence. However, CLAAS said, the attack followed threatening letters and phone calls Pastor Ashraf received from the radical Islamic organisation Tehreek-e-Gazi Bin Shaheed.
Pastor Ashraf leads two large congregations in the towns of Kashmore and Sadiq Abad, CLAAS explained. Additionally he is a noted Christian writer and poet who with his wife runs a flourishing free high school for children of Christian families in Lahore city, Christians said.
“The threats had put the family on high alert, but there are even greater concerns for their safety now that they have come under direct attack,” CLAAS added in a statement.
The organization said it had accompanied the family when they went to register what is known as a ‘First Information Report’ against the unknown assailants with local police. CLAAS also handed over a mobile phone to police which was found at the scene of the attack, investigators said.
It said Pakistani Christians had urged prayers. “Please pray for us as we support Pastor Ashraf and his family in their legal case, and please pray that God will protect them from further harm,” the group said.
There has been growing concerns about Islamic attacks against minority Christians in Pakistan following the March assassination of the cabinet’s only Christian minister, Shahbaz Bhatti.
In leaflets left at the scene at the time, terror group al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban Movement in Punjab province claimed responsibility. They blamed the government for putting Bhatti, an “infidel Christian,” in charge of an unspecified committee, apparently in reference to his support for changing the blasphemy laws under which Christians have been jailed and threatened with execution, BosNewsLife reported at the time.